Land: The people speak - Calls for unity and equality in Kokstad

Black and white speakers called for unity at the Joint Constitutional Review Committee's hearing on amending Section 25 of the Constitution in Kokstad on Saturday.

There was, however, an EFF supporter who said whites should go to Europe.

For the most part speakers on both sides of the debate spoke unimpeded and received polite applause after their turn in the packed Kokstad Town Hall.

This was in contrast to the previous day's rowdy hearing in Pietermaritzburg, where tensions simmered and speakers opposing expropriation without compensation were drowned out.

READ: Tensions simmer in Pietermaritzburg

As at previous hearings, the majority of speakers support an amendment, albeit it not as vast as at previous meetings. The trend of most, if not all, white speakers opposing the amendment, continued.

Many of those opposing expropriation without compensation stressed the importance of title deeds and asked that people be given title deeds.  

Those in favour of an amendment did so calling for redress for colonial and apartheid era racially driven dispossession.

A member of BLF said they were happy when Parliament adopted the motion to review Section 25 of the Constitution.

"To buy our own land is an insult," he said. "We should repeal the entire Section 25."

He also said it should be illegal to evict black people.

A white commercial farmer from KwaZulu-Natal's Harding area said he opposed an amendment to Section 25.

He said Harding was a peaceful area and that there was a lot of unproductive land.

"The biggest travesty is people don't have title deeds," he said.

He said his neighbour was a very successful black farmer, but the neighbouring community struggled because it did not have the means to become successful.

"We could all be part of a success story if we work together," he said, to applause.

"We should be united and we'll prosper together."

A black man, who said he was labelled an "instigator" when he opposed apartheid, said: "I'm saying let's work together and be equals."

Another black man said: "The whites should help us. Let's all be equal."

A white woman, a DA and AfriForum member, said she opposed an amendment and was very angry about it. She said land reform failed because of huge corruption, and added that expropriation without compensation would be tantamount to stealing land.

The committee had to ask for silence when she spoke, as a few people started chanting: "We want our land! We want our land!"

The chanting quickly subsided.

An EFF-supporter said land had multiple meanings for black people and expropriation without compensation would be part of the decolonisation process.

A woman who said she was a direct descendant of the Kok family – the Griqua royal family after which Kokstad is named – said she supported an amendment.

She said she supported amending Section 25 because of her descent and connection to East Griqualand.

She told of how the British authorities punished her forefathers by removing them from their land after a rebellion in the 1800s.

A black woman said she does not support an amendment and that Parliament must respect Amakhosi (chiefs).

"Amakhosi know us better than them (MPs), because we're their subjects," she said.

An ANC member said expropriation would not tamper with food security.

"We much reject this notion that government will take the property," he said. "It is a lie."

"We are saying let all of us embark on this process to restore the dignity of our people."

IFP-supporters said they supported expropriation without compensation, but the land under the Ingonyama Trust must be left alone.

A man who identified himself as an inkosi, said he opposed an amendment.

There were also some speakers who said land under the control of amakhosi must be used to the benefit of the people.

ALSO READ: We are all Africans, Rustenburg residents told

A white farmer said all the whites who voted against a democratic South Africa in the 1992-referendum and wanted apartheid to remain, had since left the country and those whites that remained considered themselves South Africans and South Africa as their country.

In response a man who only greeted the EFF-members of the committee said he would greet the others when he "gets his land back", said: "Your home is Europe! No settlers can claim our land!"

"Azania was invaded in 1652 and occupied by settlers! This is Azania, this is my land."

He said the clause in the Freedom Charter saying land belongs to all – black and white – betrayed black people.

This was the committee's final meeting in KwaZulu-Natal. Next, delegations of the committee will head to the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, and finally the Western Cape.